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The new Apple iPad: hands-on photos and first impressions

Update with video: On Wednesday Apple launched The new iPad. Not the iPad 3 or iPad HD, simply The new iPad.

Due to hit the shops on March 16th, it comes in black and white and is available in capacities of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.

There weren’t really any surprises in terms of the tablets’ features, but Apple’s made some significant changes to apps iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band.

Finally, why has Apple called it the new iPad? Is it a big Cuppertino finger-up at the endless Apple iPad 3 SEO-baiting by technology websites? Maybe a little bit. But we think it’s because Apple is still selling the iPad 2 – if the new tablet had been called iPad 3, it makes you instinctively think the iPad 2 isn’t as good and people might not buy the iPad 2. Apple obviously believes there’s a market out there for both tablets.

The new iPad: Feature

We had some hands-on time with the new iPad today and we were very impressed. The most significant design change since the iPad 2 is the screen, which is the same size – 9.7-inches – yet the resolution has increased to 2048×1536, that’s 4x the number of pixels in the existing iPad and 1-million more than a full HD TV at 1920×1080. Yes, this tablet will display more detailed then the best flatscreen TV on the market.
What more pixels really means is more detailed images, sharper text and brighter colours, whether you are viewing images, movies or reading text the effect is much more lifelike. Otherwise the new iPad looks and feels virtually identical to the Apple iPad 2.

Apple did indeed boost the processor – but instead of a quad-core offering, it’s a dual-core A5X chip with quad-core graphics, which should improve gaming performance.

One of the most interesting changes is to the camera, which can now shoot 5-megapixel stills and 1080p HD movies. Test footage was impressive, but until we are able to try these out for ourselves, it’s hard to make a call. We’re hoping the new iPad’s camera is as good as that on the iPhone 4S.

Apple iPad: Retina display

The screen is named a Retina Display because if you hold the tablet 15-inches or closer to your face, your retina can’t discern individual pixels. We tried it out and were bowled over. It’s hard to explain how eye-popping the detail or bold the colours were in photographs.

The new iPad: Homescreen

The iPad’s that were on show were running iOS 5.1, this isn’t really a significant upgrade, and the homescreen looks the same, with four icons docked at the bottom and the familiar grid layout. Well if it’s not broken?

The new iPad: Main menu

You can see how sharp the icons look on the homescreen – although we’d have liked an iPad 2 to compare it with. Text is just razer sharp, it’s clearer, brighter and just easier to read.

The new iPad: Back

This sample of the new iPad is the WiFi-only version. The main difference between this and the WiFi + 4G version is the addition of a black plastic strip at the top of the latter too house the antenna. At 652g, it’s around 50g heavier than the iPad 2, but this wont be an issue for most people. Like previous versions of the iPad it feels solid, well-built and premium.

The new iPad: Camera

The camera is an iSight camera, with a resolution of 5-megapixels. No, it’s not the 8-megapixels many people speculated would appear, but 5-megapixel’s will be fine for most people. (Check out our article on the iPad’s screen resolution here).  It also shoots 1080p HD video.

The new iPad: Controls

Located on the side of the tablet are the hold and volume controls, these are unchanged since the iPad 2.

The new iPad: Depth

At 9.4mm deep, the new iPad is virtually identical to the iPad 2 at 9.5mm.

The new iPad: Voice Dication

A new feature for the new iPad and clearly a distant relation to Siri. Tap the microphone on the keyboard and Voice Dictation will translate the text you want to say. It supports a range of languages, including UK and US English.

The new iPad: A5X processor

Inside the new iPad is an A5X chip, that supports quad-core graphics. This basically means graphics in games  – like Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy – look amazing and it’s fair to say looks like console quality.

The new iPad: iBooks

iBooks is unchanged, but the Retina Display just means it looks sharper, brighter and more colourful.

The new iPad: Text

So lifelike is the text and three-dimensional the pages, at first glance this looks like a real book, that’s thanks to the 2048 x 1536 Retina Display. Is it as user-friendly as E-Ink on an Amazon Kindle? We’ll have to wait and see.

The new iPad: Photos

This is a close-up picture of a photo on the iPad’s screen taken using an iPad. As you can see it’s very sharp and colourful, yet retains the natural skin detail.

The new iPad: Sketchbook Ink app

We think the new iPad will be a big hit with artists – and one glance at this amazing drawing app lets you know why. Due to hit iOS in April, users can create line-art images using brush controls and even export at 100-megapixels.


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